Shola around Kodaikanal

Country/territory: India

IBA Criteria met: A1, A2 (2004)
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Area: 1,600 ha

Bombay Natural History Society
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2003 high not assessed not assessed
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The Bear Shola, Tiger Shola, Pambar Shola, Vattakanal Shola, Peumalmalai Shola and Blackburn Shola of Palni Hills are located in and around Kodaikanal within a radius of 8 km. Bombay Shola is located on the edge of Kodaikanal, while Vattakanal is 6 km outside it. In Bombay Shola, the ground cover is meagre due to heavy exploitation. The montane quasi-temperate climate of Kodaikanal plateau is maintained due to the presence of these sholas and the century old Pine and Wattle plantations. Among these sholas, the Pambar and Vattakanal Sholas are probably the best preserved. Vattakanal Shola contains six extremely rare and endangered tree species and numerous terrestrial orchids. These sholas are home to many endemic species of plants, amphibians, butterflies and birds (S. Balachandran pers. comm. 2002). The plateau bears grasslands alternating with wooded shola. Many endemic and endangered plant species were reported from Pampar and Vattakanal. About 75% of the plateaus originally bore grassland. The grasslands are famous for Strobilanthes kunthianus, which blossoms once in 12 years. The occurrence of the highly endangered Bentinckia condopanna at Pampar Shola is noteworthy. The Pambar Sholas, also has some very rare species such as Sonerila pulneyensis, Hoya wightii palnensis, Plectranthus bourneae, Tichoglottis tenera and Phyllanthus chandrabosei.

Key biodiversity

AVIFAUNA: Almost all the high altitude endemics of the Western Ghats have been seen in these sholas. Interestingly, the threatened and endemic Nilgiri Wood-Pigeon Columba elphinstonii, which was rare during the 1980s, has now become quite common, and found to breed in these shola patches. No decline has been observed in other endemic species, including White-bellied Shortwing Brachypteryx major and Nilgiri Flycatcher Eumyias albicaudata, which is evident from their common occurrence in the gardens and campuses of Kodaikanal town. From BNHS ringing data of the last 30 years, it was found that the Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Ficedula Nigrorufa and White-bellied Shortwing from neighbouring forest patches (Poombarai) have shown a steady increase in the total bird catch since the 1970s (Balachandran pers comm. 2003). However, the Nilgiri Pipit Anthus nilghiriensis has decreased, mainly due to the plantation of exotic trees in Shola grasslands (Balachandran et al. 2003). Of the 16 restricted range species of the Western Ghats (Stattersfield et al. 1998), seven have been reported from this IBA (Balachandran pers. comm. 2002).

OTHER KEY FAUNA: The major predators are the Tiger Panthera tigris and Leopard Panthera pardus but the sightings of these two predators have become rare in these sholas due to human disturbance. Barking Deer Muntiacus muntjak is the commonest ungulate. The Gaur Bos frontalis and Wild Boar Sus scrofa population is increasing (S. Balachandran pers. comm. 2003). Wild Dog Cuon alpinus and Sambar Cervus unicolor have decreased. Indian Giant Squirrel Ratufa indica is found in all suitable forest patches. The Bonnet Macaque Macaca radiata has increased to pest proportion as tourists feed the animals.

Key contributors: S. Balachandran and Ian Lockwood.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Shola around Kodaikanal. Downloaded from on 29/11/2021.